FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 3, 2022) – The commonwealth continues to receive accolades for its record economic momentum as today Gov. Andy Beshear announced that industry publication Area Development issued Kentucky’s third Gold Shovel award in six years and named Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation’s investment in the BlueOvalSK Battery Park in Hardin County to the Manufacturing Projects of the Year.
“This is a tremendous recognition for both the BlueOvalSK project and Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “This commitment by Ford and SK Innovation is at the center of our recent economic success and will continue to drive growth in Central Kentucky and throughout the state for decades to come. BlueOvalSK is a game-changer in the commonwealth, and it is great to see others around the country recognize just how significant it really is. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our record growth in 2021 and to those who are helping us keep that momentum going in 2022 and beyond.”
Last September, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment to establish BlueOvalSK in Hardin County and create 5,000 jobs. The project stands as the largest investment and job-creation announcement in the commonwealth’s history.
In 2021, Kentucky set a new standard for economic success, as private-sector new-location and expansion announcements totaled a record $11.2 billion in planned investments with commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. The commonwealth’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
Kentucky received Area Development’s 2022 Gold Shovel award for states with populations between 3 million and 5 million. The commonwealth previously received the award in 2017 and 2018, as well as nine Silver Shovel awards since 2007.
Area Development’s annual Gold and Silver Shovel awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high value-added investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. The awards are based on a combination of weighted factors, including the number of new jobs to be created in relation to the state’s population, the combined dollar amount of the investments, the number of new facilities and the diversity of industry represented. Five states achieving the highest weighted overall scores are awarded Gold Shovels in five population categories: 12 million-plus, 8 million to 12 million, 5 million to 8 million, 3 million to 5 million and fewer than 3 million. Runners-up in each of the categories are awarded Silver Shovels.
The honors from Area Development come in response to recent economic momentum in the commonwealth as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
In addition to the BlueOvalSK project, Gov. Beshear was joined by leadership at Envision AESC in April to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings upgrading Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy.
For April 2022, the State Budget Director reported the highest-ever monthly General Fund receipts of $1.84 billion. That is up 34.9% over last April’s collections, bringing Kentucky’s year-to-date growth rate to 16.4%.
And Site Selection magazine recently placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
For more information on Area Development's annual Shovel Awards, visit AreaDevelopment.com/shovels.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at CED.ky.gov. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion at facebook.com/CEDkygov, on Twitter @CEDkygov, Instagram @CEDkygov and LinkedIn.